Now CARICOM Chiefs About Face On Haiti Help After Nudges From UN, US.

Photo by Heather Suggitt on Unsplash. Many children in Haiti are not getting school dinners due to gangs disrupting markets and food supplies.
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By Editor-July 7th, 2023.

The idea of forming and deploying a specialized global police force to help Haiti’s police oust the gangs armed with machetes and firearms that are terrorizing the whole country has moved much closer to fruition by finally getting the widespread support of CARICOM political  leaders at this week’s conference in Trinidad, reports the Miami Herald.

Haiti is a member of CARICOM.

Up to now Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness had shown interest back in February, but the remainder of Caribbean leaders and heads of state had vigorously opposed the idea and have been conspicuously silent on the matter ever since.

Stabilising Haiti seems like a daunting task, but then El Salvador has achieved a remarkable turnaround in the last year by rounding up and imprisoning thousands of gangsters in El Salvador.

In fact some intrepid tourists now joke that if you go to El Salvador wearing a tatoo, you are likely to be immediately arrested and  imprisoned  with no questions.

But Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who currently chairs the 15-member CARICOM, told journalists on Wednesday that the regional bloc is now believes that the country’s police force needs to be strengthened in order to create “a safe corridor to be able to bring in humanitarian support, which Haiti desperately needs.”

But assistance needs to be approved by the U.N. Security Council and should be financed, Skerrit said, by France, Canada, the United States and other large nations.

In October, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry called for international assistance with the deployment of a specialized force to help the Haiti national police confront gangs, which had seized control of the country’s key seaport and fuel terminal.

While gangs no longer have control, they continue to block access to main roads, cutting off travel to the south and northern regions of the country.

The U.N. has said that almost half of the country’s 12 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and millions are going hungry, bedause gangs are blocking food supplies to many communities.

Skerrit cited the fact that Haitians are “are going to bed hungry” as a reason for the “advancement” in their thinking.

In February, Caribbean leaders, meeting in The Bahamas, opted not to support a special security mission to Haiti after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the event, said his government plans to focus its efforts on funding the police and issuing sanctions against members of Haiti’s political and economic elite accused of financing gang activities and importing illegal arms into the country.

The U.S. which sent a large delegation to the meeting in The Bahamas, had hoped Canada would lead a security mission to Haiti and that such a deployment would have the support of CARICOM. Haiti is a member of the bloc. Following their February decision, Biden administration officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris, have focused efforts on getting the Caribbean to support an international force and to engage in helping Haitians find a solution to their political and security crisis.

The U.S. even paid for a plane to fly dozens of Haitian political and civic leaders to a meeting in Jamaica last month in hopes of brokering a political deal.

Though such an agreement did not emerge, the group agreed to keep talking, and Henry has been urged to broaden a political consensus on governing the country in the absence of an elected president or parliament.

During the three-day summit in Trinidad and Tobago this week, the situation in Haiti featured prominently alongside the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary celebrations and discussions about the climate crisis, debt financing, correspondent banking and the rising cost of food.

Skerrit opened Wednesday’s press conference by telling journalists that leaders had spent an hour and a half meting with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the entire meeting was about Haiti.

Guterres, who visited Port-au-Prince on Saturday, has increased his calls for “a robust international force,” and during the visit expressed frustrations over the lack of political will by nations to help as gangs tightened their grip and children and women increasingly become victims of sexual violence.

Sources: Miami Herald. CARICOM.



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